China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) introduced the new ‘Food Safety Law’ in October this year and opened for public comments until 31st October 2015. It is essential for companies, who are involved in food and food packaging business with China, to be aware of these newly introduced changes. This new revised Food Safety Law consists of 10 chapters and 154 articles, while 50 more articles have been added to the previous Food Safety Law which was implemented in June 2009.
Background and purpose of the new standards
Food safety issue has become a significant problem for the Chinese food sector, particularly since the 2008 infant milk scandal which affected a large number of children. In order to ensure food safety and protect public health in China, the government is expected to implement more stringent food and safety regulations.
So what are the new changes?
One of the main changes is that the food manufacturers must register the raw ingredients, additives, formula and labels with the China Food and Drug Administration. Furthermore, these regulations will prohibit companies to use the same formula to different brands.
In addition, labels must not refer to the prevention or treatment of any disease and must stress that the product cannot replace medication. If a company intends to stress a functional health benefit of its products, then it must be registered with the China’s food and drug administration.
More prominently, regarding the online food purchase, the authorities have now also increased supervisions of product safety and consumer protection. Online sale platforms or third party online sellers must ask the sellers to accept food safety responsibilities before selling any food items through their platforms. This procedure must be done before sellers register to the online platform. In any circumstances, if consumers’ rights are infringed, then the consumer would be entitled to claim compensation from the online food seller as well as the food manufacturer.
Impacts on the food and packaging industries
The Chinese Food Safety Law is the basic legal framework for food safety supervision and management in China. The law lacks detailed explanation, though other authorities such as National Health and Family Planning Commission, China Food and Drug Administration and General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine have published some detailed regulations related to the Food Safety Law.
The key standards relating to food packaging materials, which will be affected are as follows:
• paper, paperboard and paper products
• metal materials and products
• rubber materials and products
• plastic resins
• plastic materials and products
• coatings and coating layers
Commodity Inside understands that these changes will ensure the food safety and protect the public health. However, it will still require a close monitoring to ensure implementation.